Mesothelioma is a rare and very severe form of cancer that made numerous victims among Navy veterans. This disease is caused by asbestos exposure. Almost 30% of mesothelioma victims are veterans which is not at all surprising because massive amounts of asbestos were used in the military prior to the 70's. Today, veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma can benefit from a compensation offered by the VA. However, many people get to the step of submitting their claim when it's unfortunately too late and the disease is at an advanced stage. The primary reason why they fail to claim their rights earlier is a misdiagnosis. Learn more about why this condition is so difficult to track and how you can avoid a mesothelioma misdiagnosis.
Why Is Mesothelioma Often Misdiagnosed?
A correct and prompt diagnosis can significantly improve a patient's prognosis. The sooner you find out about your condition, the more chances you have to receive an effective treatment. But the signs of mesothelioma are often overlooked or misinterpreted which is critical given this condition's poor prognosis. Most people who suffer from this form of cancer live less than a year after they are diagnosed. This might raise major questions regarding the doctors' ability to detect the illness, but there are multiple reasons that make this job particularly difficult:
- mesothelioma is typically accompanied by symptoms that are quite common in other diseases as well such as persistent coughing, pain in the chest or breathing difficulties. These symptoms can be very misleading and patients who show them are often told that they suffer from less serious respiratory disease or a gastrointestinal condition. Some of the most common conditions mesothelioma patients often get as their initial diagnosis are asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, malignant neoplasm, tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- even if a doctor realizes that the patient suffers from a form of cancer, they might fail to pinpoint mesothelioma and mistake the case for another lung cancer or adenocarcinoma. In order to give a conclusive mesothelioma diagnosis, doctors have to perform a biopsy. This test is carried out if a tumor is visible in a patient's scans. A sample of the affected tissue will then be collected and analyzed. Yet, even at this stage, there can be doubts because a mesothelioma tumor looks very much like a lung cancer tumor.
- this disease is not very common and there aren't many practitioners who specialize in diagnosing and treating mesothelioma.
- doctors don't usually suspect that a patient who hasn't been in contact with asbestos on the job can develop mesothelioma. It's important to talk to your doctor about your work history, especially if you had a job in the military where you were most probably exposed to asbestos. Providing more details about your work experience will help doctors correlate your symptoms with the correct diagnosis faster.
What If the Disease's Stage Is Mistaken?
Doctors often manage to diagnose the disease but fail to determine its stage. Mesothelioma is an aggressive condition that develops rapidly. There are 4 distinct stages in pleural mesothelioma and there is a specific treatment for each one of them. If the correct stage isn't determined, the patient will receive less than the proper treatment and suffer the consequences.
What Can You Do to Avoid Being Misdiagnosed?
The best advice for veterans who have respiratory problems and receive a diagnosis that has no connection with asbestos exposure is to get a second opinion. There are specialists who have extensive experience in mesothelioma cases.
A B-reader evaluation is also essential for patients who are suspected of mesothelioma. A certified B-practitioner can accurately interpret and classify a patient's X-rays and help detect mesothelioma at an early stage. This exam is highly recommended for patients who have been exposed to asbestos or any other toxic substances and are at risk of developing pulmonary diseases.
Even if you received a mesothelioma diagnosis in the first place, it's still recommended to see a second specialist who can confirm the diagnosis and the condition's stage.
Don't be disheartened if your disease was misdiagnosed the first time. If you act fast and get examined by a mesothelioma specialist, you have more chances of overcoming the disease. An accurate and timely diagnosis can provide you more treatment options. You might even qualify for surgery if the disease is discovered at an early stage. We are here to help you find out more about asbestos exposure in the Navy. Moreover, if you want to file a claim for compensation, we can put you in touch with some of the best legal experts in the field of asbestos litigation. Contact us at any time for more information: 760-621-6147.